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Is Subaru Too Cautious In The Move To All-Electric Models? - Subaru's CEO Says Why

Subaru takes the move to all-electric Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek models slowly. Here is why Subaru is so cautious in its approach.


Why is Subaru moving slowly in bringing its first all-electric model? Subaru is a small automaker and has around 4.35 percent market share in the U.S. according to a year-end report from CarSalesBase. Subaru is taking the slow approach like Toyota because of the risk involved.

In a recent interview with Automotive News, Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura mentioned the risk when he says," For the U.S. market, we're not sure how rapidly the electric vehicle market will grow."

2022 Subaru Forester
Photo credit:

Subaru collaborates with Toyota for its first-ever battery-electric car

Subaru has hitched its wagon to Toyota in developing its first-ever all-electric SUV. Nakamura says, "We are a small manufacturer, and we're not going to be able to cope with all the changes by ourselves. So we need to have the right partner, and we think that is Toyota."

Subaru will bring its new all-electric SUV sometime in 2022. Subaru says it will be about the size of the 2021 Forester compact SUV. The new EV will be a compliance car for California's emissions, where Subaru sells many of its new Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek SUVs.

2021 Subaru Forester pricing, features, specs

Subaru benefits by taking the slow approach by letting other automakers take much of the risk. "We wanted to minimize our investment because we're not sure how much profit this project is going to make. We also wanted to minimize the risk of entering the EV market. To hedge, the partnership with Toyota helped," Nakamura tells AN.

"Toyota has a lot of knowledge of electrified vehicles. So we thought working with Toyota would allow us to introduce an EV or hybrid faster. We can absorb Toyota's knowledge."

While Toyota plans to launch a "portfolio of battery-electric products," Subaru will launch one all-new model in early 2022. It will have limited availability in California and some eastern states. Even though it's developed with Toyota, Subaru will keep the new all-electric "distinctly Subaru."

Subaru will move slowly and cautiously in developing an all-electric Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek. "Based on that (how rapidly the EV market grows), we'll have to think about our strategy and how to add electrified vehicles."

You Might Also Like: 10 Things Subaru Won’t Change in 2021 And One They Should

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Timothy Parker (not verified)    January 5, 2021 - 5:11PM

As much as EV enthusiasts would like to see the whole world using EVs exclusively, many consumers are not there yet. Subaru wasn't the first car company in the U.S. and they don't need to have the first EVs. Their success is based on the focus and design of Subaru's cars. As long as they keep producing cars with the features that people want, they will continue to be successful. The go-slow approach makes perfect sense. The train hasn't left the station and they aren't missing it. They'll get on board at the right time.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    January 5, 2021 - 7:43PM

It is no surprise that they are taking the same ultra conservative approach as partner Toyota, as well as Honda, Mazda, and other Japanese automakers, who are dragging their feet, giving lame excuses why they can't build a competitive EV in today's world. The best incentive will be lost revenues against competitors who are not afraid to jump into the EV market.

Chris powell (not verified)    January 6, 2021 - 4:12PM

They make money on service. All those blown head gaskets and ring land failures. These companies don't know how to fill the void of lack of maintenance. No belts, hoses, oil changes, diff and trans fluids, spark plugs etc. Toyota is Subaru only hope at this point

Glen Dorn (not verified)    May 27, 2021 - 2:50PM

In reply to by Chris powell (not verified)

Wow - so many lies in your comment. Hope you feel better! Consumer Reports consistently shows Subaru as a very reliable vehicle (per reader surveys), and all problems with blown head gaskets were resolved many years ago. But, you just keep lying while you drive your cheap junk....

XTman (not verified)    January 9, 2021 - 3:49AM

When introducing a new EV car, first impression is very significant . Subaru claims it only has limited R&D resources. So it has to spend it wisely and cautiously. Americans still love their gas burning engines. EV vehicles have less moving parts and service needs and are expected to be much more reliable. Service and spare parts are a major income source. Those are the main arguments against a quick introduction of EV vehicles.
On the other hand, tight air pollution regulations are around the corner, EV competition is building-up, gaining experience and recognition. Many of Subaru customers, if not tree huggers, do care about the environment. They are already waiting for the promised Subaru Evoltis, that according to recent leak is expected to show up for sale late in 2022. So like me, they might stick to their current Subaru cars expecting eagerly for the Evoltis arrival. Most of the December 2020 sales decline is due to the Covid-19 impact on the economy. Nevertheless, part of it might relate to those EV-minded, mainly Subaru Outback customers.

3.6R (not verified)    August 13, 2021 - 2:44PM

In reply to by Vicki (not verified)

Agree. Want to skip hybrid and go directly to solid state EV (and in Canada, too, eh). The battery position should even improve the already low current centre of gravity for Subies, similarly with the great torque, and the longevity. Should be a great fit.
Only concerns are performance in cold weather (geographically popular with Subies), long distance travel accommodations (Subie owners love to go far). Hope this could have captain's seat 2nd row option that can fold down completely & a classy interior package, otherwise, absolutely the same trims we love in other Subarus.

Floyd Hancock (not verified)    August 16, 2022 - 8:53PM

In reply to by Vicki (not verified)

Im not going to wait untill 2025 or 26 ..I never was ever thinking of a GM product but the blazer EV and the equinox ev are beautiful..I need an ev much sooner good buy Subaru ..hope you can stay in business.i need that 7.500 insensitive..your lose..

Hoenn (not verified)    February 3, 2021 - 12:20PM

Looking for a new car here & I do like EV’s, but I live in the cascades (Pacific Northwest, Subaru Capital in America) & until global warming brings my winters up to 40F; it’s hard to justify an EV Subaru (even if it gets Tesla miles). I live in the cascades & that 40% loss on cold-snowy days can’t be good to the already low miles most EVs go. I’ve seen so many Tesla’s on tow trucks too, would be a nightmare to be stuck during a snowstorm (although Puget Sound is known for rain, it does get snowy in higher elevation).

Gary (not verified)    March 3, 2021 - 6:37AM

In reply to by Hoenn (not verified)

EV’s work fine in Canada and just not on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, in the prairies. We have really cheap electricity rates which helps.
Of course when it’s -20 the battery needs more charging but in the US south the battery would need to be charged more often because of the air conditioner fending off 110 degrees. Most people have attached garages up here and don’t get much below freezing even on cold nights. Anyway I can’t wait for an EV Outback or RaV4

Reid Jones (not verified)    February 18, 2021 - 2:17PM

The business landscape is littered with businesses that failed to react quickly enough to change. Hope Subaru doesn't become one.

Thomas Ward (not verified)    March 28, 2021 - 12:46PM

In America, the EV market will remain small until about 2030...
Democrats wont be able to get ultra strict emission laws...
Hopefully by 2025 they have a hybrid version of every model.

Reid Jones (not verified)    March 29, 2021 - 12:22PM

I am driving my 3rd Subaru Outback and guess it will be my last Subaru because I am committed to a 4wd EV for my next vehicle. Wish it could have been a Subie because I really like my 2019 Outback.

Reid Jones (not verified)    May 10, 2021 - 8:42AM

Loved my Outbacks but got tired of waiting on a Subie EV, so I leased a Niro EV while I wait. Really enjoy it and it works for me. So long, Subie!